*Photo by VIVA Films
MANILA — The trend of movie production nowadays usually revolves in superheroes, action-comedy, thriller, and romanticized loneliness and rejection, until August 2018 Filipinos finally had an option to watch a ‘different’ (a sort of) movie.
So it’s a breath of fresh air when CJ Entertainment of South Korea released a movie that focuses on the unconditional love of our grandparents — well at least for the Philippine adaptation.
The comedy-drama film Miss Granny was a huge hit for many Koreans, where extended families are also popular when it was released in 2014.
After a year of box office success, Miss Granny was adapted and became a blockbuster hit in China (2015), Vietnam (2015), Japan (2016), Thailand (2016) and Indonesia (2017), while India is also developing their own remake.
In the Philippines, Viva Films secured the rights to produce the local adaptation through its partnership with CJ Entertainment and was later released last August 2018.
Directed by Joyce E. Bernal, the Philippine adaptation of Miss Granny has the same storyline and appeal with other Miss Granny adaptations.
However as observed in many YouTube comments from countries that adapted the film, the Filipino version received the most favored response as it remains faithful to the original film — where the unconditional love of grandparents is the main focus.
The old Fely, portrayed by veteran actress Nova Villa, caused her daughter-in-law Angie, portrayed by Lotlot De Leon to be brought to the hospital after being stressed out constantly by her — the usual mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship among extended families.
After realizing the cause of Angie’s sickness, her son Ramon was forced to request her to temporarily put her into the home for the elderly.
While wandering around the city, the distressed old Fely discovered a magical photo studio where a mysterious man took a photo of her that magically made her 50 years younger.
The young Fely, portrayed by Sarah Geronimo, emerges from the studio and for the next half an hour, she finally had the chance to pursue her passion for singing.
A long lost dream from the past that was taken from her when she had to take care of her unusual (and always) sick son. She then decides to disguise as Odrey De Leon.
Sarah was the perfect choice to play Odrey (young Fely) as she was able to balance her role with the maturity that she already had inside as old Fely. It did not feel awkward for Sarah to act older.
From this point, the audience was presented with a satisfying dose of colorful visuals and top classic hits when Odrey was recruited by his grandson to perform with their band.
The first three songs were covers of local hits from the early 70s. The “Rain” (by Boy Mondragon, 1970), ”Kiss Me, Kiss Me” (by Efren Montes, 1971) accompanied a montage of scenes with her band in various gigs, and the haunting “Forbidden” (by Norma Ledesma, 1969) accompanied a montage scenes that explained Odrey’s early suffering as a single mother.
And because in Filipino movies all bidas live in constant chaos, something happened with her grandson and bandmate Jeboy the day they are set to perform live on national television.
The following tear-jerker scenes are the most memorable parts of the entire film.
While Odrey belt “Isa Pang Araw”, montage scenes of her grandson and memories with her family was shown.
Comparisons aside, the audience can appreciate how various remakes from different Asian countries show a lot about how each society view their relationship with grandparents and age.
At the end of the film (and for a moment), I felt like a “popster” (Sarah Geronimo’s fans club). Miss Granny’s Philippine adaptation put a spotlight into Sarah’s talent in singing and acting turning uninspired and “pilit” scenes tolerable just by her presence.
Bernal was aware that Sarah’s starpower was enough to pulloff a film about Lolas into Filipino hearts.